Braveheat—the classic medieval Scottish pride film starring Mel Gibson—was on TV the other night. The film was meant to depict the conquests and campaigns that took place under the legendary Scottish knight, William Wallace, as he fought to liberate Scotland from the rule of England. As entertaining, epic, and charming as the film was—for all the right reasons—the fact of the matter is that it simply was not an authentic depiction of the real William Wallace, nor the events that transpired during his legendary knighthood. Sadly, his legacy has now become synonymous with Gibson’s charming crocodile smile, much to the dismay of the Scots who revere the legacy of William Wallace and his contributions to Scotland’s odyssey towards freedom.
In the very same film was the conflicted Scottish king Robert the Bruce, portrayed by actor Angus Macfadyen, depicted as a cowardly and indecisive young king—which ultimately was a disservice to who he really was historically. Still, there was a layered and conflicted nature to his character as someone caught between England and Scotland. Braveheart ended with some measure of redemption for Robert as a character, but clearly a better homage was needed…enter the 2019 film entitled Robert the Bruce. Can I just say how badass you have to be to have a name like that?
In Robert the Bruce actor Angus Macfayden returns to reprise his role as the titular character, this time completely taking ownership of the role as the heroic protagonist. Where Braveheart was a glorified Hollywood war film, Robert the Bruce is the complete opposite—an intimate historical drama. This isn’t “Braveheart II“ or a sequel by any stretch, but it has a familiar actor portray the legendary historical figure in a manner fitting for such a lofty king.
It’s a gorgeous film, from the backdrops to the music, and the intimate details of the characters and their relationships—this is a film to really absorb. Having been created on an indie budget, Robert the Bruce ends up having more heart and character than the grander Braveheart could ever muster behind its lavish production values (though they didn’t have enough cash left to pay off the driver in the background).
Robert the Bruce is, in a sense, a spiritual follow up to Braveheart much in the same way Creed was to the Rocky series. It’s a refreshing reboot of sorts, this time being more historically grounded and character driven. While Robert the Bruce never steps into an epic battlefield scene, it does portray conflict with far more emotional intensity than anything a bunch of faceless extras in the battlefield ever could. Robert as a character is a hero and one badass lone-wolf outlaw, an endearing and memorable character that does right by the namesake.
When viewed with an open mind Robert the Bruce is an unique and remarkable film, and it’s also given me a new mission in life: to convince a certain SnapThirty writer to legally change his name to Luke the Halliday.
For freedom! For Scotland!